A quick update…

Greetings, Bearers!

1.) Yes, I did finish The Hobbit, and am now reading The Fellowship of the Ring (you should have seen the surprised looks people have given me when I’ve confessed to this failure on my part).

2.) I’m currently shopping around my finished novel, The Blood of the Rose, to see if I can get it published via official company (so far, my Beta readers have been very pleased with it, and I’m hoping that trend continues with others who see it!)

3.) I’m writing another novel which is completely science fiction.  So far, the working title is A Sunless Planet, but that may be subject to change (as you may already know, I’m quite finicky about titles)

4.) I’m also starting the outline and world building for another novel which is more along the lines of fantasy, though it’s more conventional fantasy than The Vein Series

5.) Yes, I’m still working on The Vein series :D, although it’s had to take a bit of a backseat for various reasons.  But don’t worry; it’s not off the table yet.

6.) I will soon be putting together another short story collection, with the working title of Surrealities and Other Tales, which will consist of my collection of Surrealities stories and also other stories which have not yet been released. I’m hoping to have this one readily available in paperback as well as ebook (and I also intend to get back to my ebook only releases and get them in paperback as well… someday 😉 ).

So it’s back to work for me shortly, but before I go, let me extend a heartfelt thank you to the new readers who have been perusing my titles.  Remember: if you like what you’ve read, please do me the honor of telling other people about it.

And another thank you to the loyalists out there who have stuck with me when I’ve been silent on social media!  I’m really working… promise…

Okay, enough chatter from me.  Spread the word!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

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Meanwhile, on another fantasy-related note…

Greetings, Bearers!

I don’t know how many of you out there have an embarrassment that you’ve not yet revealed to the rest of the world, but if you have one and have not yet shared it, you have my sympathies.  Even now, as I write this blog entry in preparation of revealing my own embarrassment to you, I feel a bit of discomfort in doing so.  Not that I’ve done anything utterly horrid, mind you, but as somebody who loves the exercise of creative imagination in the direction of fantasy and science fiction, I seem to have been somebody who has not always practiced what he has preached regarding the urging on of others (particulary young people) to “take up and read,” as St. Augustine once heard children sing.

So, with all that being said, let me share my moment of embarrassment with you.

I have never read The Hobbit.

hobbit

For that matter, I’ve not even read The Lord of the Rings.  In fact, the only J.R.R. Tolkien book I’ve ever read is The Silmarillion (I know, odd bird I am). But I am working on amending my impenitence in the area.  See, I’ve begun reading The Hobbit now, and am thoroughly enjoying it!  I could kick myself for not starting it earlier, for reasons that are too numerous and scattered to enumerate in a single post, but the more I read Tolkien, the more I’m loving his work.  I was a bit worried that seeing the movies beforehand would ruin my enjoyment of the novel, but am pleased to say that no such corruption has befallen me.  If anything, I may rewatch the Hobbit Trilogy (or at least the first two, I’m still not sure I want to re-watch The Battle of the Five Armies at this point in time) just to do a fun little comparison.

And believe me, after reading Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities, Tolkien is far lighter and far more conducive to the adventurous mind.  I mean no disrespect toward Charles D., but the plot surrounding Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay, interesting though it was, pales in comparison to the outright adventures of thirteen dwarves, a hobbit, a wizard, and perhaps the greatest piece of jewelry ever conceived in the mind of a literary master.

I have said before that all modern fantasy writing is merely a footnote to the work of Tolkien, and I am more persuaded than ever by that as I swam past the influenced waters of fantasy literature to reach one of the great sources of that wellspring of imagination.

So while I am writing, I am reading, and I am feeding my brain with the source material that nourished a great many other writers.  If I could meet Mr. Tolkien, I would heartily apologize for not booking my travel to Middle Earth far sooner in my life.  I truly, truly missed out on the greatest adventure for all those years.

But I am making amends, and the mending of this break has never been sweeter.

Just have to watch out for those Mirkwood spiders.

Okay, back to writing, and back to reading. I’m hoping to have news for all of you soon concerning works I have written.. and that it is indeed good news. In the meantime, I again extend a heartfelt thanks to those of you checking out my works for the first time. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them!

They are, after all, “my preciousssssss….”

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Another word concerning the Game of Thrones series…

Greetings, Bearers!

First, a thank you to those who are new to my work! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! Drop me a line and tell me what you think!

Second, as per the title, here is a video which accurately sums up my thoughts about the final season of Game of Thrones

 

If anybody who sees this knows George R.R. Martin, let him know that I’m more driven than ever to read the series now, as I really want to see how he intends to resolve in a more cohesive manner what Benioff and Weiss sped through and ruined.

Okay, back to writing and other things… like shiskabob.

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Surrealities V Now Available on Smashwords!

Greetings, Bearers!

I am pleased to announce that Surrealities V is now available on smashwords.com for a price of your choosing!  Below is a brief description of the two stories included in this edition. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

Surrealities, Part V

From the mind of storyteller J. Dean comes the “Surrealities,” short story series, a concept rooted in and inspired by weekly television serials such as The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, and The Outer Limits, and classic radio serials such as Suspense, Dimension X, Lights Out, and other regular tales that take the imagination to the heights of exhilaration and the depths of fear.

In the Story “Man’s Last Night,” a hotshot video game player is challenged to a match where the stakes may be higher than he bargained for. Meanwhile, two competing parties converge together at the request of a brilliant scientist who has something both groups want in the tale “The Greater Good.”

On Writing: Drastic Changes in Characters…

Greetings, Bearers!

Before I begin this post, let me set up some parameters.

First, I am a fan of the Game of Thrones series on HBO. I’ve not yet read the books (I have the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and have been interrupted more times than I care to remember every time I’ve tried to start it), but I’ve watched, and am currently watching, the episodes. So if you look at my title and consider this paragraph, you may see where I’m going with this post.

Second, related to this is the warning of spoilers: I’m going to talk about some GoT series-related items, so if you’ve never watched the series and intend to, or if you simply aren’t up to date, then BE WARNED: SPOILERS FOLLOW (although I seriously doubt anybody who cares is ignorant of what has happened as of late, especially in the penultimate episode of the series).

Okay, disclaimers are done.

It’s no secret that the Internet is buzzing with opinion (mostly negative) about this current season of GoT. Everything is a topic and a target: from Tyrion Lannister’s sudden regression from clever political wit and wisdom to dreadful judgment and lack of eloquence, to the battle of Winterfell ending in a manner that left many unsatisfied with the story of the Night King and his White Walker legions, to the showdown at King’s Landing, which culminated in the shocking shift in the character of Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons destined to rule Westeros from the Iron Throne, as she transformed from the just (albeit ruthless at times) leader of an assembled army into a horrific monster whose wrath is channeled through the fire of her dragon and unleashed indiscriminantly upon surrendered soldier and innocent civilian alike as they scattered through the streets in terror.

And while what I’m about to talk about could encompass more than one of the characters involved in the chaos and violence flooding the capital of Westeros, it’s this last example of Daenerys Targaryen that I’d like to settle upon for my thoughts about writing this week: namely, thoughts about making changes to your character’s persona.

When you build a character, you build traits that demand consistency.  Even if a character has a complex makeup, that complexity still must remain consistent within that character.  Otherwise, you lose that character. You cannot simply change a character’s motivations or methods without reason or logic.  To do so makes them an entirely different being, one that the audience feels cheated on. It would be like coming home to a spouse who acts completely different than the person you married; you’d be thrown off, and probably not in a pleasant manner.

This is the problem with Daenerys Targaryen.

Now, let me preface with something here: I don’t necessarily have a problem with Daenerys going mad in the tradition of her father. Truth be told, there’s a part of me that finds that notion rather intriguing.  But the writers gave virtually no setup for Daenerys’s change.  Yes, Daenerys was the daughter of Aerys Targaryen II, known as “The Mad King” for his instability and cruelty, and yes, there were hues and flashes that alluded to the possiblity that she could conceivably go the way of her father. And yes, though she was compassionate, just, and fair, she could also be ruthless and harsh. But the series gave no serious indications that led the audience to believe that Daenerys could seriously snap and suddenly kill innocents in the middle of a surrendered city.  She had a lawful demeanor and characterization, one which remained steadily consistent throughout the majority of the series arc. I understand that there are other issues occuring which may be chafing at her (the beheading of her dear friend and confidante, the simmering tension between her and Jon Snow despite his claims of loyalty to her), but none of these in and of themselves serve as a truly sufficient reason for such a dismantling of her persona, not in a manner proving to be satisfactory to any serious fan of the series.  It was said in a video that more pronounced hints should have been placed in AT LEAST ten episodes of the series, and I cannot fully disagree with that.  What we have here is not natural, organic growth and change within a character, but instead a racidally forced and unfounded shift that destroys all we knew about the female known as Daenerys Targaryen.

This isn’t the first time we’ve ever seen something like this.  Remember Star Wars? Remember Anakin’s change to the dark side?  Many people complained that Lucas forced the change abruptly upon him.  Yes, we understand that he snapped in Attack of the Clones and slaughtered a colony of Sand People (I still prefer this to Tusken Raiders) for the sake of saving his mother, but this felt like a one-time incident. Nothing else within the series gave us any serious clues that the Dark Side of the Force was exerting an overwhelming pull upon him; the dreams concerning Padme’s death could cause him concern to some degree, but his sudden reversal from Jedi Knight to Sith Apprentice in the manner conveyed by the movie did not receive enough vindication from the scant reasons scattered throughout the movies (I’ve been told that The Clone Wars cartoon series had moments as well, but I’ve seen very little of it, so I’m not qualified to comment on those episodes).

But let’s not stop there.  How about that dreadful pile of rubbish referred to as The Last Jedi?  Did that person onscreen called Luke Skywalker resemble the young hero we came to know and love during Episodes 4 through 6?  Did the character portrayed by Mark Hamill perform the same motivations, attitude, and actions that characterized the farmboy from Tatooine? The answer is an obvious no, to the chagrin of many fans of the Star Wars franchise (including me), and the motivation given in-story for the dramatic shift in personality did nothing to add credibility to Rian Johnson’s abominable creation. Luke, like the Mother of Dragons, was written out of character, solely because the writer demanded it.

Here is a key point that all writers need to remember: It is the characters which drive the plot, and never the other way around. A memorable, three-dimensional character must be established with a personality and traits which define him or her in a solid and reliable way that gives the audience a sense of stability and consistency.  Yes, characters can grow and can change, even radically, but that change must be established rationally and organically, not by shoe-horning a sudden change in personality for the sake of a plot device. It is one thing to depict the gradual changes in circumstances that affect one character and eventually turn them into somebody very different; it is quite another to suddenly and unexplicably make a villain out of a hero, or a coward out of a warror, using only a flimsy explanation devoid of logical development.  Daenerys Targaryen could have very easily been shaped throughout the series in such a way as to set up a sensible change into “The Mad Queen” (or “The Queen of Ashes” as somebody referred to her) but not in the manner depicted by the current story arc.

I have no idea whether or not this is the intended direction which George R.R. Martin has planned for the Mother of Dragons in his books, but I truly hope that his development is far more consistent and layed out than the arbitrary and capricious shift enabled by Benioff and Weiss.

Okay, that’s a pretty lengthy set of thoughts from me. Feel free to weigh in with your own. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and keep reading!

(Still wish Eddard and Benjen were alive)

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean

I am a total dufus…

Greetings, Bearers!

I feel like a complete idiot, as I have failed to inform all of you that I have completed the novel I began during the James Patterson Master Class course.  Yes, I’ve been done with it since March, but instead of telling everybody I got so caught up worrying about how to get it out there that I didn’t tell you guys.

Sooooo… my novel is complete! (Sorry about not telling you)

I’m sending it out now in hopes that I can get it published.  Of course, the indie route is always open, but I’d like to try going the traditional route, just to see whether or not I can pull it off. So I’m going to work on those channels for a bit and give the companies a fair chance before just running off and printing it through Amazon.com (not that there’s anything wrong with that…).

In other news, you who are familiar with the Vein series will be pleased to hear that I am returning to those novels and am picking up where I’ve left off, hoping that Mr. Patterson’s lessons will serve to improve the stories I’m creating there.  Also, I’ve got ideas for two more novels being tossed around, and I’ve even got a thin plot for a graphic novel slowly putting on more meat and muscle, but that one will probably wait until I can find somebody crazy enough to take my work and try to illustrate it… (shudders).

Anyway, I am still around, still working, still creating, and still loving it, and I cannot wait to share my works with you (sooner rather than later, I hope!).

And of course, before I go, I again offer a shout out to those new people who have recently come across my works!  Thank you for daring to venture into my stories, and as always, let me know what you think of them!

Okay, on with the stories, until we speak again!

See you in the Vein!

J. Dean